The Weights You Should Be Using (But Aren't)

Tier 4 coach Matt Delaney showcases two unique strength-and-mobility tools.

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By this point, you’ve dumbbell-ed, kettlebell-ed, and barbell-ed your way around the weight room floor more times than you can count. Plateauing is an exerciser’s sworn enemy, and the best way to bypass a stand-still and progress toward your fitness goals is to constantly innovate. For New York City-based Tier 4 coach Matt Delaney, whose Instagram account is a testament to his love of experimentation, finding new tools that not only refresh his routine but also help him multitask is top priority.

“I began working with the mace at the beginning of the year and added Indian clubs into my routine shortly thereafter,” he explains. “I am always looking for ways to mix up my routine and was drawn to both because of the unique combination of strength and mobility they require.”

If you’ve yet to encounter these pieces in the real world, Delaney offers a primer below, as well as a video demonstration in the short film above. Take a read:

What They Are:

Indian Clubs: As Delaney describes them, these tools “look and feel like bowling pins” and come in a range of weights up to 12kg; in the video, he uses 2kg clubs.

Mace: “I tell people the mace is like a kettlebell on a stick,” Delaney says. The mace can skew a bit heavier, clocking in at up to 40 pounds. Due to its design, which places the center of mass far outside your grip, it makes even the most basic movements increasingly more difficult.

The Benefits:

(1) Strength: “As a massage therapist, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my grip strength and that is a major benefit of both of these tools,” Delaney says. The clubs and mace also offer significant strength benefits to the core musculature—the mace is particularly useful for working your obliques—and the shoulder girdle.

(2) Proprioception/Mobility: The design of these tools makes them harder to control, Delaney explains, and thus require coordinated efforts of multiple muscle groups, “therefore developing and strengthening new motor control pathways.” Not only is your brain working harder, they also improve wrist, shoulder, and thoracic spine mobility.

(3) Meditative Payoff: As Delaney does in the video, exercisers can work their way up to piecing together exercises into flows. “It can become almost meditative as you get lost in the movements.”

How To Incorporate Them:

Delaney uses clubs for movement prep and for active recovery during training session; the mace he also uses as active recovery in-between sets, but “will occasionally make it the focus of an entire training session because of its versatility.”

What To Watch For:

Because these tools require a good deal of technique and coordination, you’d be wise to consult a trainer before using. “Anyone with significant orthopedic issues, especially wrist or shoulder issues, may want to consult a doctor before adding these tools into their program,” Delaney says. “That being said, when used properly they can be great for rehabilitating injuries in those areas.”